Would You Rather…Buy a Second Car or Travel?

Welcome to my first installment of, “Would You Rather…?” Since this is my first time starting this new series, I thought I would explain how this process will work.

Each month, I will pose an interesting debate between two similarly priced items. I will pose the question to you, my readers, and ask for your valuable feedback. You will be asked to tell me two things:

  1. What you prefer out of the two choices
  2. Why you would choose that item over the other

One more ground rule. In order to make this a productive conversation, PLEASE stay on topic. If I ask you to choose between A and B, please don’t tell me that you would rather have C. It may be more realistic, but I think the conversation will benefit more if we stay on topic.

Why this is Worthwhile

I believe this will be a valuable way to start a conversation. Whether we realize it or not, I believe that we make these decisions, both consciously and subconsciously ALL THE TIME. We regularly choose to spend our money on one thing over another. When you are in the grocery store, you are forced to choose between store brand and name band. While some of it comes down to priorities, we often make these decisions without knowing why. I know that I have spent more money on one thing, only to wish I had my money back and could use it towards something more meaningful.

We Make These Choices Everyday

Sometimes, it’s not as easy of a choice as deciding between two options. When we go car shopping, for example, there are hundreds of different models, produced by tens of different makes. How do you decide which is best? Sometimes it comes down to just pure chance. You see a commercial and are persuaded to buy that car. I hope, however, it comes down to calculating what is important to you. If you are going to be financially successful, it starts with spending your money wisely.

We Can Help Each Other

That’s why I have started this new (fun) series. It will not only give you a chance to give your feedback, but also convince other people that you are right. Who doesn’t like a little debate every once in a while. I think the end result will be that we all learn from each other. We can help each other make smarter decisions with our money if we talk about our everyday expenses.

Would You Rather Buy a (Second) Car or Travel?

The first installment features a pretty basic household budgeting dilemma. It is one that my wife and I are forced to make over and over. We currently have one car, but we love to travel. I hate taking the train in the Winter, so I am tempted to buy a second car. Here’s the question:

Assuming the costs are basically the same, would you rather buy a second car or take an annual vacation to an exotic place?

Let’s expand this question a little bit before I open it up for debate.

Buy a Car or Travel?

Expenses of Car / Annual Vacation

Some of my observant readers would probably be quick to point out that a new or even used car is going to cost more than an annual family vacation. This is definitely true, but a car will last more than 1 year. My wife and I take decent annual vacations each year. We don’t stay in the nicest hotels or pay for expensive tours, but we still spend a good sum of money each year. If I had to average it out, I would estimate that a nice annual vacation for two (traveling by plane) will cost $2,000-$3,000 at minimum.

The prices of different cars will have different price tags. But that doesn’t mean we can’t find some figures to compare it to. When my wife and I bought our wagon in 2009, we paid just under $10,000 for it. We expect it to last us at least seven years (if not 10), without putting any significant amount of money into it (fingers crossed). Like anyone else who owns a car, we pay for maintenance on the car. For the past three years, we have probably spent $500 a year on maintenance issues (getting new tires, oil changes, minor repairs, etc.). If we assume that our car will last 7 years, that means our annual expenses are somewhere around $2000. (This is some fuzzy accounting, but for sake of simplicity, just go with me on this one).

For my situation, the annual expenses for buying a second car and taking a vacation are nearly the same. Sure, there would be additional costs like fuel costs, but I already incur public transportation costs, so I have ignored it. What that means is that if I can afford to do only one, I have to choose. And so do you!

It’s up for debate: What means more to you? Having the luxury of a car to drive to work? Or taking an annual vacation to see the world?

What’s NOT up for debate: Just as a friendly reminder, it’s not my intention to argue about the financials. I know that you could find a cheaper car, but you could also choose to find a cheaper vacation.

Readers, I want to hear from you!


16 Responses to Would You Rather…Buy a Second Car or Travel?

  1. I’d buy the car. We could easily use a second car right now instead of the current situation of using my wife’s car on her days off, riding my bike, a and getting rides from coworkers.

    A much more difficult question would be between a THIRD car and traveling. The only traveling I’m really interested in is visiting family back east, which doesn’t cost anywhere near a much. So in the confines of the parameters you set, if still go with ash extra car. Having a hauler I’m addition to a daily commuter is more useful to me than taking photos of some pyramids.

    • Corey says:

      Great point Edward. I didn’t think about people who don’t care about traveling as much as I do. I guess that’s why it makes it so easy for you to choose.

    • I’m with Edward – the harder question is between a “fun car” and travel. We have two cars for two people, which is necessary since our jobs are in completely opposite directions. But a third car (or a second car for a single person) is a big luxury more comparable to travel.

      But I think we’d pick travel for the luxury.

      • Corey says:

        I guess that’s a good point. I realize now that I didn’t phrase the question in a way that makes the car unnecessary.

        I know I am changing the “rules” a little, but if you’re jobs were near each other, would you still choose vacation over luxury car?

  2. Years ago I had a firm opinion on the matter: a vacation, when it’s over, it’s over. Done. Gone. (Cue sound of flushing toilet.) Rather than travel, I bought a motorcycle. And each day I told myself, “See, I still have this bike. And today I’m going to enjoy it again. Just like tomorrow.” I lived in Pretoria at the time — best weather in the world for a bike.

    My wife, family and friends finally wore me down, though. Never underestimate peer pressure. So we took a 5-week vacation to America.

    I sold the bike when I got home.

    When it comes to travel, it’s just impossible to attempt any logic …

    • Corey says:

      Thanks for sharing, William. Great point about being a lack of balance. I’d love to take a 5 week vacation… 🙂

  3. Michelle says:

    I need a car where I live. Using public transportation would take around 2 hours for me to get to my job which is only 10 miles away.

  4. I would go for the car as well. My wife and I love to travel as well, so I know it would be hard for us to turn down. I say car because of a few things, like you never know if a job change might happen for you and your wife where a second car would be needed. Also, having a second car can provide convenience at certain times. Lastly, what if something were to happen to your first car? Having that second car would be a life saver. Great idea for a series by the way.

    • Corey says:

      John, that’s a great point about the ability to get to work. That seems to be a common trend among other comments. So far, we’ve been fortunate to get by with one car. Things might change in the near future though. Only time will tell.

  5. Where we live therebis no reliable transportation other than your personal car. If we didn’t have two cars there would be a lot more inconvenience and added driving for our jobs as far as dropping each other off. I am definitely going to have to go with the car here even though I would enjoy the vacation more, the car will save from massive pain.

    • Corey says:

      Yeah – that makes sense. I didn’t account for the lack of public transportation (that’s a northeasterner for ya). If you worked next to each other or 1 of you lived within walking distance to work, would you still choose vacation?

  6. I am all for the vacations. While they might only last a week they are memories that you will have for a lifetime. They are experience that you can share with your family that can bring you closer together.

  7. Travel! We don’t need a second car and doesn’t have a parking spot for it. It’s an easy decision for us. 🙂

  8. Well, we own a second car that we don’t drive and we spend a LOT of money (for us) on travel so I have already made this choice, I guess! I would love to take a big vacation yearly as we don’t do that now. We for sure don’t need the second car in our situation. Now choosing between the first car and travel would be an entirely different balance as the first car is a need where we live.

  9. We have a second car, but I sometimes feel that it costs us more to keep it running than we get benefits of having it.

    There is always public transport, cabs or even rental cars you can use instead of having a second car – So I vote travel.